What does "son of a gun" mean? what are its origins?


Thanks for your initial responses. But I have seen it being used in a "not too bad" way (example.....father of the bride part2......when steve martin & diane keaton convey to their daughter & son-in-law about they expecting a baby.....the son-in-law walks upto steve martin, and says "son of a gun", and there is no negative response from steve..............which makes me wonder if there are other contexts in using that phrase)

7 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer


    A rogue or scamp - "you are naughty, you old son of a gun".

    The phrase originated as 'son of a military man' (i.e. a gun). The most commonly repeated version in this strand is that the British Navy used to allow women to live on naval ships. Any child born on board who had uncertain paternity would be listed in the ship's log as 'son of a gun'. While it is attestable fact that, although the Royal navy had rules against it, they did turn a blind eye to women (wives or prostitutes) joining sailors on voyages, so this version has plausibility on its side.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    In the past it was one of contempt and derision derived from the fact that it described a special type of illegitimate child. In the old days civilian women were allowed to live on naval ships; many became pregnant and had their child on board, usually near the midship gun behind a canvas screen.

    If the father was unknown, then the male child was recorded in the ship's log as a "son of a gun".

  • 1 decade ago

    Its just a way to keep from saying Son of a _____, which is obviously much more inappropiate than "gun"

    its really common.

    Instead of "oh my God" people say "Oh my word!" "oh my gosh!" "oh my..."

    instead of "jesus!" people say "jeez..."

    mmhm. thats that.

  • Cyrus
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    it's just a polite way of saying son of a *****.

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  • 1 decade ago

    i think it's a nicer/toned down version of son of a b*i*h

  • 1 decade ago

    it means ur father is a gun

  • ang
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    son of a *****

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